TC 100 – Lake Gallagher Sep 2018

The TC 100 is a 100 mile long foot race over difficult terrain. This year was their first year of this event.  Last summer, I was contacted by a friend who is in the long-distance running community. She wanted to know if any off-road groups could support their run.  I felt strong about supporting them.  These are the same people that hike the same areas we like to wheel in. I think it is important that they get to know us.  We want them to understand that we care just as much as they do about the outdoors and that we want to see the trails used responsibly.  I get the feeling that some of these folks get the wrong idea about the wheeling community when they see damage caused by someone not following the guidelines of tread lightly.

The morning started out at 2:30. I had everything ready and just woke up walked down stairs and drove off.  It is so nice to see the highway completely clear of any cars. At North Bend I pulled off the freeway and then waited at the on ramp.  Within a few minutes Tom showed up and we were off.  He took lead and I followed so that he could set the pace with his tow rig. Tom drives at about 60 miles per hour and can even maintain that going up the pass.  It is always fun to have Tom on a run because you can always have a great conversation with him on the radio.  For the most part the miles went by quickly and near Cle Elum I drove around him to lead the way to the TC100 staging area.   With the glow of the GPS lighting up the cab we continued through Roslyn along the shores of Lake Cle Elum to the snow park.  It is always a little odd driving at night we never even saw Lake Cle Elum.

Just down the road, before you get to the parking area, we were stopped by a volunteer who let us know that the race would be starting soon.  We waited a minute until we saw a cluster of bobbing lights.  These are the head lamps that the runners were using.  I fully expected that the first year of this event would only have 10 or so runners.  What I saw was 70 head lamps run by. It was like watching some type of parade at night.   Once all the runners were clear we turned into the staging and parking area.  We then made radio contact with my friend Frank.   Frank was there early and had already checked things out.  Tom parked the tow rig and I took up a spot behind him to unload this TJ.   Once unloaded we found our contacts who joyfully showed us the items they needed taken to the lake.   The TC100 staff was extremely nice and offered us coffee, food and volunteer t-shirts.  Unfortunately, they did not have my size.  I guess the average TC100 volunteer is not double XL. They did have Wendy’s size, so I just got a T-shirt for her instead.  All the supplies were grouped in one place and in order of importance as I had requested.   The TC100 volunteers jumped in to help load and between 3 rigs we did not have any trouble finding enough room.   We were carrying supplies for the first aid station.   The first aid station was more of a check in area.  The runners would come by and get a little food and water or pretty much anything they needed. Frank took the canopy and much of the food.  I had the bulk of the water in 5 gallon jugs.  Some of which leaked on the way to the Lake.  I am guessing out of the over 50 gallons I was carrying I must have lost more than 5 in the back of the Jeep.  Tom pretty much had a mix of food and water.

Once loaded we were off.  I took the lead, Frank in his 2014 Land Rover was just behind me and Tom took the tail.   The forest service road to the trail is filled with washboards.  To save time I did not air down.  This may have been a mistake because the wash boards would cause the back end of the jeep to float and a few times the back end started to walk out a little.  It looked like Frank was doing fine with his IFS and IRS suspension.  In the back of my head I was concerned about making sure we made it with all the supplies before the runners made it to the Gallagher first aid station.  I knew about how long it would take to get to Lake Gallagher, but you never know what issues you could run into along the way.  Because of this I kept the pace up.  I checked in on a regular basis to make sure that Frank and Tom were doing ok. I wanted to make sure that I was not going to quickly.   To save time I completely bypassed the lower part of the trail and stayed on the Forest Service road for as long as I could.  Near the end of the forest service road we came to a fork.  In the dark it was not that clear and I took the wrong one.  We did not go far before I figured out my mistake and radioed back that we would need to take the other road.  I did not see how Tom turned around but Frank having the Rover just backed up using the on-board camera system.  I think he was showing off how cool his Rover is.  I guess sometimes technology is good.  I on the other hand had to get the 4 door turned around without that much room.  I pushed the nose up the bank and waited for the cargo carrier off the hitch to scrape which it did.  I was still able to find enough room and we were soon heading down the right trail.   The cargo rack on the Jeep was not for taking things up to the lake. Instead I was going to hand it over to one of the TC 100 staff who was going to be taking supplies back down after on Sunday.

This was Franks first time off-roading his Range Rover but for the most part you would not know it.   I did drive at least half the time with my eyes in the mirror to keep an eye on him. I also knew that Tom would speak up if he saw anything of concern.  Frank did great.  I made another check on the radio to see how Frank was doing.  He did not report any issues.  One issue I was having was keeping my eyes adjusted to the light. My eyes were going back and forth from watching frank in my mirrors.  One thing that was hard for me was because I was spending so much time looking back my eyes were having a much harder time readjusting to looking forward.  The stock head lights on our Jeep looked even more dim after looking back directly into Franks much brighter headlights.  Although Frank was doing well in his Rover, I did notice that many times he was lifting a wheel.  His rig does not have as much articulation as the jeeps.  While crossing one of the small streams Frank did slide off track a little.  He did not get stuck, but he did manage to take some trim part way off the back of his Range Rover.   I think it was the part that covers the tow point.  Tom noticed it hanging and we got out to look.  It was nothing big and Tom disconnected the other end and we were off again.  With no major issues we made it to the lake.

We were a little early but that gave everyone plenty of time to get setup.  We hung out, helped setup and had breakfast.  The other volunteers were very nice, and I chatted with several.  I also met a guy from a ham radio club that was using a local repeater to communicate with the base area.  The runs volunteers where very into the event.  They had a type of Hawaiian theme.  One gal even dressed up with a shirt that had a shark coming out of it.

I don’t remember the exact time, but runners started coming through the station.   Tom, Frank and I hung out until about 10:30 watching the runners. Before we left I took the cargo rack off my jeep and transferred it to a Jeep of one of the TC100 volunteers .  He was going to take the supplies back down the mountain after the event was over.  We were able to take our time on the way back and we took great care not to disrupt the runners.   They were able to keep an incredible pace running down hill on uneven ankle breaking terrain.  For the most part they were running the same speed as we were driving.  It made me tired just watching them run.  (or maybe it was waking up at 2:30 in the morning)  Back down in the base area we loaded up Toms Jeep back on the trailer, thanked Frank for coming and headed back to home.

This run was scheduled at the same day as Shore Patrol which made finding help a little hard.  The good news is that I spoke with the organizer and they are moving it forward one week.  They had a few reasons including ours to move it.  Next time I am planning on taking supplies in Friday night instead of Saturday morning.  I also hope that our club will be able to help take supplies back down the hill Sunday next year.

Big thanks to Tom and my friend Frank for helping.

Volunteer off-road water transport engineer